Canada closes airspace to Boeing 737 MAX 8s after deadly plane crash

Wednesday 13th March 2019 18:00 GMT

It comes after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. Safety concerns have now been raised about the plane.

The black boxes from the jet are to be sent to Europe for analysis to try to shed light on why the plane went down.

The data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the 737 MAX 8 were recovered on Monday - a day after the air disaster.

Georgia, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Kosovo joined dozens of countries in barring the planes from taking off or landing at local airports on Wednesday.

Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw confirmed Flight ET302's data and cockpit recorders were being sent to Europe, but said exactly which country would be "decided today or tomorrow".

The aircraft crashed near the town of Bishoftu, about 40 miles from Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

ET302 was on its way to Nairobi in Kenya at the time of the crash. Nine Britons are among the dead.

The largest number of victims were Kenyan and many on board were United Nations delegates on their way to an environment summit.

The cause of the crash is currently unknown, but the pilot had reported difficulties and requested to return to the airport.

More than 40 countries, the European Union and many airlines have suspended flights by the Boeing 737 MAX 8 over fears there is a problem with the aircraft.

A Lion Air plane of the same model crashed into the Java Sea last year, shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia - killing all 189 on board.

Ethiopian Airlines has said their jet underwent a routine maintenance check last month and that pilot Yared Getachew had flown more than 8,000 hours and had an "excellent flying record".

Thailand's civil aviation authority also ordered Lion Air to suspend flying Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes for seven days while it carries out risk assessments and special training for pilots.

But the US, where dozens of the planes are in service, is so far refusing to ban the aircraft from its airspace.

"Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft," said Daniel K Elwell from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Boeing's 737 has flown for more than five decades and the updated MAX 8, with bigger engines designed to use less fuel, entered service in 2017.

The company stands by its aircraft and has said it has no reason to pull the popular jet from he skies, but has promised to upgrade some flight control software "in the coming weeks".

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